Ex-NFL QB explains what made Cowboys’ final play call so bad
The Dallas Cowboys have been heavily scrutinized for their final play call in Sunday’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers. There’s no question they could have done a better job of executing, but the play never should have been attempted in the first place.
The Cowboys got the ball trailing 23-17 with 32 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. They needed to go 80 yards for the winning touchdown, and they reached the San Francisco 41-yard line with three straight completions. They then called a quarterback draw for Dak Prescott despite having no timeouts left. Prescott rushed for 17 yards, but the officials were unable to spot the ball in time for a spike (video here). Time expired before the Cowboys could run another play.
According to former NFL quarterback Chris Simms, the play never had a chance to work. He explained that all the coaches he worked with said 17 or 18 seconds was the cutoff for being able to run a play over the middle with time remaining for a spike. The Cowboys snapped the ball with about 14 seconds left.
Coaches I've worked with…Josh McDaniels, Jon Gruden, Bill Belichick…17 or 18 seconds was the line of demarcation for being able to get a play down the middle and still spike the ball. Cowboys doing it with 14 seconds shows they don't know the mechanics of that play.
— Chris Simms (@CSimmsQB) January 17, 2022
Prescott could have gotten down sooner, but it probably wouldn’t have mattered much. There was also an issue with the referee spotting the ball. Those types of things happen in a hectic situation, and that was part of the risk the Cowboys chose to take. Obviously, they shouldn’t have.